Thursday, September 24, 2015
Maud Lewis (Canadian, 1903-1970), Three Black Cats, oil on board
Since returning from the Getty Center's current show of Hellenistic Bronzes, Ciwt has been researching that era and traveling through the Greek empire, the lives of Alexander the Great, Philip the 1st, Alexander's mother, sister, best friend, Aristotle, and so much more. Ironically, as she has assimilating the powerful, rich complexity of that ancient era, the simple optimism of North American folk art has called to her. It's just a nice way to clear her head from all those battles and larger than life people and happenings.
Yesterday, the first day of Autumn this year, she remembered Grandma Moses. And memories of growing up years vaguely started wafting back: fall in New England where she lived for a while and went to school and college, and even a time when she had seriously considered opening a gallery of folk art back in the Midwest. That would have been right after her post-college New York and Washington, DC years. But, instead of moving to the middle of the country (and possibly/probably losing her shirt in the art 'business,')* she went West where she has made her life for over 45 years and put folk art very much on the back burner.
Today she discovered Canadian artist Maud Lewis and rediscovered the simple, direct offerings of that type of art. Often born of - but usually not speaking of - hardships; hardships overcome, ignored, or somehow turned into joy, inspiration, love.
In Maud Lewis's case, she was born with almost no chin and a tiny body. Feeling uncomfortable with her differences from other children, she spent most of her time at home with her parents and brother in Nova Scotia. It was there - as a child painting Christmas cards for sale to local neighbors - that her art career began and slowly grew through newspaper and magazine articles and eventually television documentaries until she became the most beloved folk artists in Canada.